DUNMORE — A family in Lackawanna County can now claim they are related to a saint.
Several generations of Pope John XXIII’s cousins have lived in Old Forge for decades but after this weekend, their cousin is St. Pope John XXIII.
The world was watching as Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were named saints on Sunday, but for a family in Lackawanna County this was the canonization of Cousin Angelo.
The man once known as Angelo Roncalli is now St. Pope John XXIII and technically he is Marisa Ranella’s first cousin, four times removed.
“I’m kind of speechless about it,” Ranella said.
We talked with Ranella at her parish, St. Mary’s in Dunmore.
We looked through family photos and a 50-year-old newspaper article detailing her family’s connection to Pope John XXIII.
“My parents always told me I was related and I remember in kindergarten they laughed at me. I said ‘I’m related to a pope’ and they said ‘No you’re not!’” recalled Ranella.
Pictures of Pope John XXIII are among the family photos. The family holds onto a label from a package the pope sent to Marisa’s great-great-grandmother in Old Forge.
Her great grandparents were invited to stay at the Vatican with Pope Paul VI after Pope John XXIII passed away. And Pope John XXIII family from Italy visited Old Forge in the 1970s.
“It’s amazing that it happened in our lifetime. The family have been here, his cousins have been in Old Forge to visit from Italy and went back and we’re still in touch with the family.”
None of the cousins from here could make it to the canonization, but they certainly watched with pride.
“It’s an honor to be related to a saint.”